What is Neuromuscular Dentistry?
Neuromuscular Dentists can realign your bite and resolve your TMJ / TMD symptoms.To put it simply, neuromuscular dentistry places the jaw into its optimal position, relieving the symptoms associated with TMJ. While traditional dentistry evaluates primarily the teeth, bones, and gums, neuromuscular dentistry works with the hard tissues and the soft tissues, muscles and nerves. Neuromuscular dentists understand that your hard and soft tissues have a complex relationship and work to make that relationship a harmonious one. Neuromuscular dentists understand the necessity for including the power source (muscles) and the controls (nerves) which create the movement, pressures, and function of the mouth.
When the jaw is misaligned, both the hard and soft tissues are affected and many physiological problems can result, such as headaches, jaw pain, neck and shoulder pain, tinnitus, or ringing in the ears, and clicking or popping sounds in the jaw joint. In a number of cases, these symptoms are the result of TMJ (temporomandibular joint syndrome), also referred to as TMD (temporomandibular joint disorder) or MPD (myofascial pain dysfunction).
TMJ / TMD is a chronic degenerative disease that often takes years to develop. TMJ affects millions of people. People who suffer from TMJ have an imbalance in the jaw-to-skull relationship, which is caused by a bad bite (malocclusion).
Neuromuscular Dentistry serves to correct the bite and realign the jaw. First the dentist determines the optimal position of the jaw by measuring the relaxed position of the head and neck muscles, and then repositions the jaw to achieve those exact measurements.
Malocclusion is relatively easy to correct. Treatment options include adjusting the bite, orthotics, orthodontics, or restoring the teeth to their correct positions.
Patients of neuromuscular dentistry experience a range of benefits from decreased or eliminated pain and discomfort to better overall health and longer-lasting dental restorations.
TMJ-TMD and Neuromuscular Dentistry
Neuromuscular Dentists can realign your bite and resolve your TMJ / TMD symptoms.When the teeth, facial muscles, and temporomandibular joints are out of alignment, the symptoms of what have been identified as TMJ / TMD (temporomandibular joint syndrome or dysfunction) arise. If you are suffering from TMJ symptoms, know that you are not alone! Although the vast majority of North Americans suffer from TMJ, most do not relate their pain and/or symptoms to a bad bite. Many people with TMJ are not diagnosed as having TMJ and are not treated correctly as a result.
Neuromuscular Dentists can realign your bite and resolve your TMJ / TMD symptoms. Neuromuscular dentists use state-of-the-art technology to determine if your symptoms are caused by malocclusion and if so, what your optimal jaw position is. The dentist uses computerized jaw tracking instruments to record jaw movement, resting position, and path of closure. Electromyography is used to measure your jaw’s muscle function in both its stressed and relaxed positions, and will also measure the jaw-to-skull relationship to see if there is a structural imbalance. Sonography is used to record jaw joint sounds to detect any abnormalities. Additionally, x-rays of the jaw may be taken to help evaluate the condition and positioning of the joint.
Once your neuromuscular dentist has diagnosed you with TMJ, he or she can determine the best course of treatment for your specific needs. Typically treatment will follow three steps:
Relieve muscle spasm and pain. The immediate concern for neuromuscular dentists is to provide relief of your symptoms. The best way to do this is by using a technology called ULF-TENS. ULF-TENS stands for Ultra Low Frequency Transcutaneous Electrical Neural Stimulation, but don’t let this term intimidate you. Basically, ULF-TENS is a way to relax muscles with a gentle massage of the muscles. The rhythmic pulsing relaxes the muscles by increasing blood flow and pumping out waste products. ULF-TENS also helps with pain relief by stimulating the body’s production of endorphins, the body’s natural anesthetic.
Stabilize the bite.Often for this step a temporary device, known as an orthotic is worn over the teeth. The orthotic allows your neuromuscular dentist to make easy adjustments to the plastic without adjusting the teeth until the bite is stabilized. Once symptoms are relieved and the bite has been stabilized, your dentist will move on to the next step and permanently adjust your bite to the correct position.
Long-term management. There are a variety of ways to correct your bite in a more permanent way.